Holding Infinity in the palm of your hand and Eternity in an hour

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand 
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.” 
― William BlakeAuguries of Innocence

 

It is often a waking dream of mine to imagine what might be happening around the world in this current, precise moment: 7 billion people all up to something. 37% of those people live in India and China alone. 33% are Christians, 22% are Islamist. 70% of the earth’s surface is water.

On the site Worldometers you can see a rather freaky count of what’s going on in the earth today – how many deaths, how many births, the net population growth. (So far today (it’s 11am) there have been 172,000 births and 71,000 deaths apparently). You can also see how many mobiles are being sold by the second, how much CO2 we are emitting and on and on. And the clocks for all of these turn at a very rapid pace before your eyes.

2012-08-13 15.30.53In a split second around the world so much happens: smiles, tears, anger, depression, joy, transition, transformation, boredom, concentration, rebellion. The list is, of course, infinite. The water continues to fall down Victoria Falls in Africa, the minute hand clicks to another minute on Big Ben, a father reads to his son, a child dies of starvation, a student is late for class, another car rolls off the production line, a richly-dressed couple step onto their luxury yacht, bees swarm, trees grow, whales drift serenely by. It is enormous, beautiful, scary and mind-boggling.

All in a split second.

When I’m feeling stuck or low, I often contemplate the vastness and infinite variety of our life on earth. I imagine myself hovering miles above the planet and looking down at it all. I see myself in my house – a tiny speck amongst all this complexity.

Another minute goes by.

All is really very, very well in my minuscule corner of the world at this precise moment – and I am enormously grateful.

 

Related resources:

Check out this wonderful film:     Life in a Day

 

 

Letter to my past self

Dear me from 10 years ago,

This is your Future Self speaking. You are about 3 months away from making a very big decision. One that will significantly alter your life.

How should I describe you? Baffled? Searching? Hopeful yet exasperated? Your children are 2 and 4 years old. The participants in your workshops are enthusiastic. You are desperate to have your children’s book ‘The Teasers’ published. You have secured a great agent but no publishers are biting. You wish you had more time to write. You wish your husband was less stressed and around more – physically and emotionally. You’re proud that you’ve been a non-smoker now for 4 years. You are keenly aware (did your past self tell you, I wonder?) that you should enjoy every last minute with your children at this precious stage of their lives – and so you do (mostly). You cannot believe your luck that the Universe shut one door (having your own children) and opened this massive, bejewelled  door to a hitherto unseen magical kingdom (adopting Julia and Sasha). You sense there’s more – much more –  to come but you don’t know what it is.

Dear past me from 10 years ago. I felt you today. As if you came into my skin and looked around our life now. You cried. I cried. We both cried. How wonderful this place we’ve come to is! You hardly dare believe it. I can hear you in my head saying:

“You mean you’re living in this beautiful place in the Cotswolds with all it’s hills, valleys and gorgeous villages? You mean the children are thriving at a school they adore with friends and teachers who equally adore them? You mean that you’re all bouncing with excitement at the prospect of spending a whole month together in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia in December? You mean you’ve taken a break from the writing and you’re utterly OK about that – in fact you’re thrilled with your current path? You mean you’ve developed your own program and it’s going from strength to strength? You mean Guy is calling the shots more at work and is master of his time again? Is it true that 6 years ago you dreamed of owning a Lexus hybrid SUV and next weekend you’re going to buy it! Do those kind of things happen? And I can’t believe how grounded, content and excited-by-life you feel! Is that possible?”

Dear past me from 10 years ago. Yes it’s possible.

You are about to make a momentus decision – to move from a great life in Canada back to England. And why? Only because “it feels right”. You have no other defense when your concerned Canadian friends ask you for an explanation.

Did you perhaps feel me calling you?

 

 

What horses can teach us

I went on a fabulous course called ‘The Way of the Horse’ yesterday at the Red Horse Foundation, near Stroud. We learnt about the intimate relationship Man has had with horse since the Scythians in about 700BC first started domesticating them. We have since abused this relationship of course, not least through the slaughter of millions of horses during wartime. Even though we don’t abuse horses on that scale any more we still have a long way to go before we truly appreciate what the horse can give us if we work in true partnership with them.

Places like Red Horse Foundation who honour the power of the horse and work with them to heal badly damaged people are starting to open our eyes to the incredible spirit of the horse. Their work is based on the EGALA model which you can learn more about in the video below.

Suffice to say, this blogger, who since she was thrown off a horse at the age of 12 and has never trusted one since, now has a completely new respect for this wondrous animal.

 

 

We are one – scientific proof!

I’m doing some research around my program Future Self Now at the moment in order to contextualise it and attempt to  explain why the experience is so powerful. I’ll keep you posted as I go along but I wanted to share this fascinating research into ‘Mirror Neurons’ – neurons in the brain that help us empathise, copy and learn. The extraordinary thing about them is that brain scans show that even when we are NOT actually performing an action – like watching as opposed to playing a sport – we can actually experience it (and light up the same parts of the brain) as if we were doing that action.

Mirror Neurons are what make visualisation so powerful. This was illustrated in a test conducted by Dr. Blaslotto at the University of Chicago. He split basketball players into three groups and tested each group on how many free throws they could make.

After this, he had the first group practice free throws every day for an hour.

The second group just visualized themselves making free throws.

The third group did nothing.

After 30 days, he tested them again.

The first group improved by 24%.

The second group improved by 23% without touching a basketball!

The third group did not improve which was expected.

Now, to really blow your mind, watch this video about the power of mirror neurons. It seems science is starting to catch up to the ancient philosophies that teach that we are all one.

So this is where much of the power of Future Self Now lies – when doing the visualisation of our Future Selves we are creating a bridge between who we are being now and who we really are – ourselves at our most powerful. Mirror neurons are helping us ‘be’ our Future Selves, now.

I’m starting a new 5 week Future Self Now course at Hawkwood College in Stroud next week. There are a couple of spaces left if you are interested. To find out more visit www.futureselfnow.com

Blessings!

 

 

 

Meeting ourselves, meeting our self-expression

I’m rather proud of this photo I took yesterday down by the canal in Frampton-on-Severn.

It reminds me of what Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way) says about paying attention to the details in our life:

People frequently believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in the particular, the focused, the well observed or specifically imagined…. it is there, in the particular, that we contact the creative self. [Creativity] lies in the moment of encounter; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression.

 

Keep your loved-one on a pedestal

Now that I’ve started running my Artist’s Way workshops again I’m going to be much more conscious about doing Artist’s Dates. These are basically about taking yourself off for about an hour a week just to have fun with you and you. They are meant to be playful, nurturing and fun – as if you were taking a child out on an outing.

My Artist’s Date today is probably no surprise for many of you – I took myself to the cinema – my favourite ‘me’ thing to do! The movie was “Hope Springs” and it struck me how well my new consciousness theme is embodied in it. The story basically follows a couple going through hard times and having therapy. (It’s a real testament to the screenwriter and the actors that they could make such a potentially agonising situation so poignant and funny). But the point is it highlights that the trouble with this older couple, who have been married for 31 years is that they have become UNCONSCIOUS of each other. Here’s a clip:

 

Long ago I realised something in my marriage: I must always do my damndest to keep Guy on a pedestal. What I mean by this is that I must do what it takes to take my gaze off the strange bathroom habits, the forgetfulness of conversations held only an hour ago, the constant losing of keys etc. etc. and focus resolutely on what makes him special – his handsome face, his humour, his love of his family, all the hard work he does on our behalf and so on. I know his faults (as he knows mine) so it’s not about ignoring them so much as saying: “that’s part of the package but I choose to make a conscious effort to keep my line of vision on the pedestal – because if I don’t, then smelly socks can take on way more significance than they should!

 

In praise of trees

Me at home in the 1970s. The lovely, enormous, oak tree was to the right of this photo.

I’ve long had a love of trees – ever since I could reach up and sit on the swing under a huge oak tree we had in our front garden. I would soar up into its branches singing, “I’m on top of the world” by the Carpenters. Ah memories!

When Guy and I moved to Canada we bought a house with a lone apple tree in the back garden which provided much-appreciated shade in the summer and a dramatic measure of the depth of the snow in the winter. We attached a little yellow bucket-seat swing later on, for the children to swing on.  When it was time to move back to England, I realised it was that apple tree that was the most difficult part of our home to say goodbye to.

Two years later we landed here in Nailsworth and now the tradition continues. At the bottom of our garden towers an enormous copper beech tree – so huge, it’s almost intimidating. But not to Julia, who has inherited my love of communing with something larger than herself through the simple pleasure of tree and swing. She is 13 now and still spends hours out there, lost in her own world, sheltered by the power and beauty of this magnificent expression of spririt.

As someone who is passionate about people allowing their full potential, beauty and gifts to shine out brightly, I love this quote from Baha’u’llah.  (19th Century Persian prophet). He said:

“Man is like unto a tree. If he be adorned with fruit, he hath been and will ever be worthy of  praise and commendation. Otherwise a fruitless tree is but fit for fire. The fruits of the human tree are exquisite, highly desired and dearly cherished. Among them are upright character,virtuous deeds and a goodly utterance.”
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.There’s a lot we can learn from trees.
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A collection of my favourite personal shots of trees: